Thursday, February 28, 2008

Plato when you have a moment can you come and see me please.

We have just had a letter from NASA rejecting a research proposal you apparently submitted a couple of months ago with the title of 'Measurement of supernova background radiators with particular reference to spring theory' asking for $12 million research funds.
Apart from suggested typographical errors like spring instead of string etc they appear to have been particularly concerned and exercised by the fact that the section about observatory equipment required comprises of, and I quote:

"1 x 12 inch plastic ruler.
1 x 200 inch deeply spaced reflector kaleidoscope
1 x small pocket notebook
2 x pencils (HB)"

I think we need to talk.
In confidence

Last night the university security office was broken into. A computer, telephone and 3 boxes of crime prevention materials were stolen. If anyone saw anything suspicious last night please report it to the security office in person as they can't receive phone calls or emails at the present time.
You may have noticed a fracas by the front gates involving the workmen who have been digging a service trench for the last week.

The workmen arrived this morning to continue their work to find a letter taped to their hut. The contents of the letter said that some students dressed as police officers would try to get them out of the hole as a prank.

It would appear that someone then phoned the police and said some students, who were pretending to be workmen, were digging up the road as a prank.

The incident lasted just over an hour before it was resolved.

Any information ....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just a thought - you can meet me by coming to one of my spiffing workshops on the 4th March in Fleet Street in London. Look here
"No you may not start your own institute"
"I don't care whether you do have a great name for it"
"Nor a natty logo either"
"Citing the tenet of academic freedom won't change my mind"
"Nor will the fact that when you mentioned it to the Vice Chancellor's and the College Principles wives at the College Dinner dinner last night they said they would back it"
"No, uniforms will not help"
"I don't care what they look like or what colours they come in"
"I am sure that you will get lots of students, you seem to be good at collecting those, the answer is still no."
"Please get up off my floor"
"How much for what?"
"No you can't bribe me - that's not enough anyway"
"Where are you going to get funding from???"
"Er I don't think...., look if you can get it then good luck to you"
"I have nothing against the Samaritans, I just don't think that they will fund a research institute into career suicides in academia."
"What??? Are you serious? Hang on let me look, I do hope that you are joking...."
"Oh bloody hell! How the f*** did you get this put on the Senate Papers for next week??"
"What people in high places???"
"Oh no.......I feel ill"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dear Dr. Platothefish

Thank you for your suggestions and interest in the 'Partner University' scheme as per the Vice-Chancellor's memo of 2nd February 2008.

Under the category 'Partner in an Under Developed Country' the steering committee decided that your suggestion of Harvard University did not suit the category.

Under the category of 'Twin Partner - the university most allied to our current structure and purpose', the committee decided that the University of Baghdad might not be a suitable choice.

We thank you for your interest in the scheme and hope that you don't see this as a rejection of your ideas, but rather as a consequence of very high standards of suggestions received by the committee.

"I hadn't considered that this might be a rejection until you mentioned it"
Whilst I can probably guess the answer to this, would someone mind telling me who was it that convinced the university Chaplin that it might be a good idea to offer baptisms in the fish pond this summer during the graduation ceremony? I know that he was accused of a lack of creativity in the university newspaper by some students last month but this is not good.

His 'creative idea,' that he has apparently been told by a "source close to the staff" 'has the backing of a large number of members of staff' is currently on agenda for the next Senate meeting.
Removing the paper will cause offence as will refusal. As you can see this puts the Senate in a difficult situation...
In response to your email, no you cannot be allocated a larger lecture room. The one you are in holds over 120 students. You, officially at least, only have about 35 on your course.
I was going to ask where all the others have come from, but I don't think I would like the answer.
Your 'super heroes' have just cleaned and weeded half of the garden area outside of the VC's office block. There is a neat line down the centre of the lawn and flower beds. One side is neat and clean and the other side is a mess. Can you enlighten me as to the reason for this? Are we going to have to do the other half?
Plato please, please tell us what is going on. It is driving me demented. People all over the campus are talking about this. PLEASE tell us.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Welcome home. Whilst you were in Riyadh nothing happened. Just thought that you might like to know that a couple of people mentioned it. Well when I say nothing, that's nothing except lots of super heroes doing good deeds. What is that about? "

"Lot's of Super heroes?"

"Yes they appear to be replicating. I keep trying to count them but they won't stand still long enough! I asked one how many there were and she just shrugged. Please tell me what's going on. I won't tell anyone, I promise"

"Can you keep a secret?"

"Defiantly, yes."

"Good, well done"


"Well done, there aren't many people who can. You know what?"


"I can keep a secret as well"

Monday, February 18, 2008

To: Platothefish,
From: Head of Registry
Subject: Student numbers
Text: Hi Plato. I don't want this to become a big issue nor do I really want to appear on your blog. However we have heard that you are teaching students that are not enrolled on your course. Can you confirm if this is indeed the case as it has repercussions in terms of student registrations, fees , risk assessments etc. etc.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Head of Registry

Dear xxxxxxxxxx
Can I just ask a question before I answer? As the lecture rooms are provided for students educational purposes what would happen if some students decided to extend their education by staying behind after their lecture? Further would your answer change if they stayed behind whilst another lecture was happening if they were not being disruptive. Also what if some students (as happens) got lost and ended up in the wrong lecture but decided to stay? Also...


Dear Plato,
I was afraid of this. I suppose the answer, if this is what is happening, nullifies any concerns. However if it occurred systematically it could be a problem. Thank you.

I know that your expertise is Ambiguity but would you mind putting the campus out of it's misery. Why were 70-80 students all dressed in black suits masks and red capes marching as a military body through the campus to your lecture room this morning? Also I thought that you had 35 students. You now appear to be teaching at least double that. What's going on?

xxxxxxxxxxxx Head of School

I doubt I can put the campus out of it's misery. That would likely take copious quantities of barbiturates or some other such overdose.

As for the student numbers I hadn't noticed. I will endevour to look up next time I teach and count them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Plato you'll never guess what. You know old fusty face Mcxxxxxx (Head of Social Networking) over in Humanaties? Then old sly dog has joined an online dating agency. For some reason the old duffer has done something wrong and all his emails are coming through to the entire department! He is such a dragon no one dare tell him.
Anyway would you believe it he is chatting some woman up who is actually responding. I don't know what his profile is like but it must be a lie for a live woman to respond!

Mums the word. I'll keep you posted.
You know I told you about xxxx (Head of External Relations) and the online dating thing? Well we all just got this email sent around the group. I can't believe she still doesn't know that we are all getting the emails.

Dear xxxxxx
You sound very nice. I think that we have a lot in common. I too work in a university. I too am head of a department. Like you I am looking just for some companionship and someone who understands me. We are about the same age. I also like going for long walks and so much more. I do hope that you favour me with a reply.

Yours xxxxxxx

Please don't tell anyone.
Yesterday the Mayor had a private meeting with the University Board. This meeting was not advertised nor was it in the university diary. However when the mayor arrived a group of about 20 - 30 people dressed in black suits, masks and red capes lined the entrance as a 'guard of honour' and saluted as he entered the main campus. Nothing else happened and the 'guard' disappeared before security could be notified. We are at a loss of what to say to the mayor about this behaviour on an unofficial visit...

Monday, February 11, 2008

My lecture follows platothefish's in lecture room b. I opened the door this afternoon to find him lecturing a room full of people dressed in black suits, masks and red capes. Oddly I thought he only had 37 students on his module. Lecture room B holds over 100 people and it was full. What is he up to?

Plato would you care to comment?

Hi Plato,
I have been told (I should have guessed really) that you have something to do with the four masked crusaders who descended from nowhere this morning and helped me to get my car started, by pushing it. I have just seen one of them stop the traffic to let an old dear across the road outside the main site much to the amusement of the drivers and a group of workmen doing some road works. There also appears to be a couple of them sitting in a bush outside my office.
I will probably regret asking but why do we have a legion of masked and caped super heroes wandering around the site helping people and hiding in bushes?

The VC just mentioned to me that he was a little surprised to find someone staring at him through his office window at 8.30 this morning wearing a black suit, mask and cape, not least because his office is on the second floor.
Do you know anything about this?
Hi Platothefish,

I was 'rescued' today by two super heroes dressed in black suits, masks and red capes. I must say they were very helpful when I was struggling with a plie of very heavy boxes. Everyone else just watched me struggle but these two shifted to lot for me. They then vanished without a word afterwards. Your students perchance??


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why are your class all wearing black suits and red capes?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Email doing the rounds - quickly...

Don't tell anyone else and I mean ANYONE but it would appear that the Head of External Relations has been signed up for an online dating agency without her knowledge, with a full profile, photo and everything! She is trying to keep it secret for some reason. The odd thing is she hasn't cancelled the subscription and is getting lots and lots of emails. The funny thing is all the emails are also being sent to the rest of the department as a secondary email address on the profile and I am sure she doesn't know! Whoever wrote the ad is very clever, the whole profile is very ambiguousm it gives no real details but is working a treat. I thought she was a lot chirpier than normal. But please don't tell a soul....

Oh Ok - Shhhhhhhh...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Health & Safety Risk Assessment

Name: Platothefish
Dept: Ambiguity and vagueness
Date: 04/02/08
Event: Lecture
Location or site: Lecture room B
Nature of Risk: That the students might learn something, especially critical thinking.
Who is affected?: My students, the cleaner, a few lab rats and society at large
What has been done to minimise the risk?: I will talk quietly and will try not cause them to think too much
Is a first aid trained member of staff available?: Will a humanitarian aid trained person do?
Is a fire marshal available?: I promise not to play with matches
Has someone from HR H&S executive examined the risk: What of? Learning? I doubt it.
Does the university insurance policy cover this event?: Yes/No ...... you tell me
Is travel involved? If so by what medium? Yes, the students need to enter the room via the door and walk to their seats. Some may levitate of course. I may have a couple of spiritualists in the student body but I am not sure about mediums, do we collect such data?
Is your direct manager aware of this event and has he/she approved of the event?: I did wake him up and tell him, however the vodka appeared to have taken it's toll. He certainly approves of being left alone.
Have you received approved training for this event? Well I learnt to walk and talk all by my self, my mum appeared to approve at the time.

.... and so on for another 23 questions.... I might just manage to get to retirement age before I ever have to work again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Please note that the last communications about Health and Safety Risk Assessments were sent out in error, an early draft copy having been circulated instead of the correct version. This will be circulated next week. Could staff please not conduct any more risk assessments or forward them to HR until the new policy has been circulated."

Hi Platothefish - HR has apparently been flooded with literally 100's of Risk Assessment forms today. There is some suspicion that a number of them were filled out by students. I am sure (& hope) that this wasn't the case - was it?

Monday, February 04, 2008

On entering the School of Mathematics this morning a life sized zebra and antelope was found blocking the entrance to the Game Theory Department. Whilst we welcome this contribution to our research, Game Theory has not until this morning involved the investigation of animals from Africa, or any other animals for that matter. The said items can be collected from the Head of Schools office.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Health and Saftey Policy - Risk Assessments

...You are required to carry out a Health & Safety risk assessment for every situation where students, employees of the University, contractors and visitors may be exposed to University property, or are required to carry out an activity in the university confines. Additionally field trips and visits involving....

"Hello HR Admin"
"Hi it's platothefish here"
"Oh dear, please wait a minute whilst I contact my supervisor"
"What for?"
"It's just that...."
"I only want to ask a question"
"er - ok I suppose that will be ok"
"do you mean safe?"
"Never mind. Now this health and safety policy you sent out this morning. Can I just check something?"
"Of course" (sounds relieved)
"I just want to check something. The way this is worded it seems to be saying that a risk assessment needs to be carried out if any human being does anything that is in anyway attached or connected university business or property."
"Oh no I am sure that's not the case"
"OK have you got the policy there?
"Of course" (sound of frantic paper sorting)
"So if I teach in a lecture theater do I have to carry out a risk assessment for example, according to the policy that is"
"I think so yes"
"OK and going by the policy if I am in my office I need to carry out a risk assessment?"
"ER yes I suppose so"
"Ok and if I have to file some paper in my filing cabinate I also have to carry out a risk assessment"
"Er well, I suppose if you follow the policy, strictly speaking, yes, but..."
"Ok so what about me. as an employee of the university of course using a piece of equipment at the university for example?"
"Oh yes that would defiantly be included. No doubt about that" (sounding more confident)
"So a piece of equipment like this telephone for example?"
"ER Oh dear"
"And if I happen, just going by this of course, to go to the toilet, a university provided toilet of course, then I would also have to carry out a risk assessment?"
"Oh dear, if you go by this then yes it does look like it doesn't it?"
"It certainly does"
"Indeed every act now appears to need a risk assessment."
"I see what you mean. I hadn't quite seen it like that."
"Ok can you tell your boss that I will have to cancel all my research and teaching for the rest of the term."
"To fill in all the risk assessments needed. I wouldn't want to breach university policy. I might get suspended or something."
"I will let her know your concerns. I think that there has been a mistake with the wording of the policy"
"I look forward to hearing from her. I am sorry I need to dash as I need to fill in a risk assessment so that I can open the three doors I need get through to get out of my office and go home for the weekend. I will email you the 5 or 6 I will need to get into work on Monday."
"Oh dear"